Birds by Conor McPherson

Aviary Mayhem at Barrington Stage

By: - Jun 21, 2017

By Conor McPherson
Based on the Short Story by Daphne Du Maurier
Directed by Julianne Boyd
Scenic Design, David M. Barber; Costumes, Elivia Bovenzi;
LIghting, Brian Tovar; Sound, David Thomas; Projection
Designer, Alex Basco Koch
Cast: Stevie Ray Dallimore (Nat), Sasha Diamond (Julia), Kathleen, McNenny (Diane), Rocco Sisto (Tierney)
Barrington Stage Company
St. Germain Stage
June 15 to July 8, 2017

Given the current and almost daily references to 'alternate facts' and thus to alternate realities, Birds by Conor McPherson (based on the short story by Daphne Du Maurier), is even more relevant today than when originally written in 2008.

This Irish playwright, author also of The Weir, The Shining and The Seafarer, among others, introduces us to a post apocalyptic world where humans are dwindling and birds are taking over.

What has happened? How did everything turn topsy-turvy? And how will the characters in Birds survive?

Birds opens in a tiny cottage in Maine. The windows are boarded up, and the excellent sound design (by David Thomas) makes the audience immediately aware of the presence of many birds. This, combines with the eerie projection design, (by Ales Basco Koch), creates a constant tension and fear of what might happen next.

Diane (portrayed by a vivid Kathleen McNEnny) is a writer, and through her voice narration we learn that she and Nat (played by a powerful and nuanced Stevie Ray Dallimore), met randomly and are holed up in this cottage to survive.

Nat is overcoming an illness, and as he recuperates, Diane sees his temper and fragility. As they move toward more cooperation in adapting to this stunning situation, they discuss the probable neighbor across the lake. It is too risky to explore who is there.

The tides control the arrival of the birds, and provide Nat and Diane precious time to forage for food. Debates take place regarding the risks of going to a bigger town. Everything is an unknown and safety is never certain.

Into this claustrophobic setting enters Julia, a young, vibrant and flirtatious girl, upsetting the delicate balance between Nat and Diane. Julia has left a group after a harsh experience and is seeking refuge.

Julia challenges Nat and Diane in their decisions.  She quotes from Ecclesiastics.  "Someone who is always thinking about happiness is a fool. A wise person thinks about death."

What is Julia doing? As time goes by, she gets closer to Nat. They go off foraging and Diane is visited by her neighbor from across the lake, Tierney.

In his short time on stage, Rocco Sisto as Tierney makes a mark.  He frightens Diane, sows doubts in her mind and makes a particular statement: "They never saw this one coming, ha? No one ever thought nature was just going to eat us."

Tierney's visit changes the course of the play.

Birds illuminates how people react when the world as they knew it no longer exists, when all the rules of life no longer function.

Very relevant indeed!